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Augmented Reality Applications for Substation Management

Could you imagine viewing data from your Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system through Google Glasses? Augmented reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies and devices are able to augment a person’s field of view with contextual information. Could this sort of technology be used in a SCADA System?


One group of researchers from Koncar Power Plant and Electric Traction Engineering believe so. They have authored a paper that covers the use of augmented reality for substation management over IEC 61850. http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/11/3/599


In recent years, augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies and devices (e.g., Google Glass, Microsoft Hololens) have introduced a lot of technological hype by offering the ability to augment a user’s real-world vision field with just anything they’d want. These technologies, apart from some technical limitations, have the potential to be applicable in many different areas since they can move domain-specific visualizations from the computer screen to the real world. This paper presents a novel methodology for visualizing process related SCADA data to enhance and facilitate human-centric activities in substations such as regular equipment maintenance. The proposed solution utilizes AR visualization techniques together with standards-based communication protocols used in substations.


Most electrical substations are remotely monitored and controlled by using Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) applications. Current SCADA systems have been significantly enhanced by utilizing standardized communication protocols and the most prominent is the IEC 61850 international standard.


These enhancements enable improvements in different domains of SCADA systems such as communication engineering, data management and visualization of automation process data in SCADA applications. Process data visualization is usually achieved through Human Machine Interface (HMI) screens in substation control centers. However, this visualization method sometimes makes supervision, control and maintenance procedures executed by engineers slow and error-prone because it separates equipment from its automation data. Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) visualization techniques have matured enough to provide new possibilities of displaying relevant data wherever needed.


This paper presents a novel methodology for visualizing process related SCADA data to enhance and facilitate human-centric activities in substations such as regular equipment maintenance. The proposed solution utilizes AR visualization techniques together with standards-based communication protocols used in substations. The developed proof-of-concept AR application that enables displaying SCADA data on the corresponding substation equipment with the help of AR markers demonstrates originality and benefits of the proposed visualization method.


Additionally, the application enables displaying widgets and 3D models of substation equipment to make the visualization more user-friendly and intuitive. The visualized SCADA data needs to be refreshed considering soft real-time data delivery restrictions. Therefore, the proposed solution is thoroughly tested to demonstrate the applicability of proposed methodology in real substations.


Read the paper, and see if AR or MR integrated into your SCADA might be the wave of the future for the Big Data future of SCADA.  http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/11/3/599 With the advent of IoT technologies, many new advances could be coming to the SCADA market.

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